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A Florist's Guide to Ordering Flowers for Holiday Gifts

Updated on February 2, 2016
Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa Shay worked as a florist for eighteen years and has created and taught an assortment of crafts to adults and children of all ages.

Pink and white lilies.
Pink and white lilies. | Source

How to Get the Best Flowers, Service, and Arrangements when You Order Flowers for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or Any Holiday

You might think ordering flowers for holiday gifts is a simple business; just pick up the phone and tell the person who answers what you want or simply go to a florist's website and order using a picture you like.

It can be that simple but if you want the best value for your money, the best possible service, and the nicest possible arrangement of holiday flowers you might want to consider a few of these tips.

Have All Your Information Ready

Floral arrangement with hydrangea, limes, grapes, and trachelium
Floral arrangement with hydrangea, limes, grapes, and trachelium | Source

Before placing your call or making your Internet order get together all of the information that you'll need. Have your credit card out and have the recipient's complete address and phone number in front of you - even if the location the flowers will be delivered to is a business. If the flowers are going to a business it is helpful to know the hours of that business. Be mindful that some businesses close early for holidays or let employees leave early even if they don't.

Simple submerged orchid centerpiece
Simple submerged orchid centerpiece | Source

Order Early

By early, I don't mean early in the day on the holiday, I mean a week or more before the holiday. While you can achieve some of the benefits of ordering holiday flowers early by ordering just a few days before the holiday the maximum benefit comes from ordering before the week of the holiday starts. The benefits of ordering early are many.

Your order will have a higher priority than those received on the day of the holiday itself. If you've ordered something of limited availability or something that requires the florist to special order product it gives the designers the ability to place that special order or to be sure the specific product will be set aside for your order.

Florists tend to fill early orders first which will tend to score you the best flowers and arrangements when you order early. This means the floral designer that makes your order will be fresh, not too fatigued, and still full of creative energy. Also, many floral designers won't admit it but everywhere I've worked I've seen that designers want the best for themselves (their clients, actually) so they use the flowers they think are the most beautiful and best first. Logically, they should use flowers with an eye to evenly distributing the choice blooms among all orders but in practice this is not the case.

Another benefit is that if you are trying to have flowers delivered in a specific time window such as before noon or after 3pm the florist will be more likely to be able to accommodate your request. As the actual day of the holiday grows nearer timed deliveries will be cut off because only a limited number of such orders can be taken. The florist only has so many delivery vehicles and delivery drivers and timed deliveries are requested by customers far more often for holidays than for day-to-day deliveries.

Hand-tied white floral centerpiece
Hand-tied white floral centerpiece | Source

Decide What You Want on the Card Before You Call

Sending flowers is a lovely, emotional gesture. If you want the full impact you'll want something more intimate than "Love, Bob" on the enclosure card. If you want to say more, go right ahead, just limit it to one short paragraph at most unless you plan on dropping off the signed card yourself. The standard enclosure cards florists use are pretty small.

A floral arrangement made to look like a plate of sushi
A floral arrangement made to look like a plate of sushi | Source

Know What You Want

Have at least a general idea of what you want before you order - or decide to let the designer choose.

You don't need to know exactly what you want to order but it's a good idea to narrow it down a bit. If you know the recipient's favorite color or flower that would make a good starting point. Another broad category is style. Does the recipient like things that are old fashioned, feminine, or modern?

If you simply don't know what sort of arrangement he or she will like, your best option is to leave the choice up to the designer. Nothing thrills a floral designer quite like the words "designer's choice" on an order. Most designers see this as a real treat and as a chance to really show off their best work. When I order flowers I almost exclusively order "designer's choice" arrangements and I've never been disappointed.

Large, colorful flower arrangement made for Valentine's Day
Large, colorful flower arrangement made for Valentine's Day | Source

Give the Florist Your Second Choice for Flowers

This applies in several situations. If you are sending flowers out of state through your local floral shop you'll either need to send a less specific order or have a second choice picked out in case your first choice is not available. If you are extremely specific about what you want, particularly in regards to collectible containers for arrangements you'll want to give a second choice - if you didn't order at least a week before the holiday. A second choice for your arrangement can be as simple as asking for the floral designer to make an arrangement as similar as possible to the one you've chosen or choosing another pictured item.

Floral arrangement with delphineum, bells of Ireland, and striped aspidistra
Floral arrangement with delphineum, bells of Ireland, and striped aspidistra | Source

Be Aware of How Much Flowers Cost


The price of gas has gone up, groceries have gone up, and so have flowers. Flowers get shipped great distances in refrigerated trucks before reaching the floral shop. With the sky-high cost of fuel for semi trucks and rising energy costs this has made flowers more costly. Also, at the holidays the price of flowers goes up. The growers charge the wholesalers more and in turn the wholesalers charge the florists more and then you get to pay more, too.

Florists charge for delivery and the price of gas has driven delivery charges up, too. Out of town deliveries or wire service orders to other cities or states will have an additional transmission charge which ranges from $3 to $15 depending on what service plan your florist uses. When you are deciding how much to spend don't forget to keep delivery and wire service charges in mind. Just because you spend $50 it doesn't mean you are going to get $50 worth of flowers. If you are sending those flowers out of state through your local florist you are likely to get a $30 arrangement for that $50 spent.

You can trim these costs by directly calling a florist in the city you are sending flowers to or by ordering online.

$45 to $65 in addition to delivery (and wire service charges for out of state orders) is an average price to pay for an average arrangement on an average day. It may be far less than average on a holiday.

Tulips and scented chartreuse candles in a low Spring centerpiece
Tulips and scented chartreuse candles in a low Spring centerpiece | Source

Don't Be Surprised if the Flower Arrangement Doesn't Look Exactly Like the Photo

Take a look at the small print on the bottom of your florist's web page - most florists reserve the right to substitute flowers. Florists don't make substitutions if they don't have to - but they will substitute similar flowers to achieve a similar look if the flowers in the photograph run out or are not available. This is more likely to happen at the holidays because the demand is so great at that time.

Spring tulips hand-tied in a vase
Spring tulips hand-tied in a vase | Source

Opt for Early Delivery


If you forget the holiday and send flowers the day after it's not so swift but if your loved one gets flowers a day ahead of everyone else - that's pretty cool! It adds to the surprise value because it's kind of unexpected. Also, it reduces the chances of your arrangement getting crowded into a delivery vehicle with too many other deliveries and driven around town by an inexperienced seasonal driver.

Heart-shaped contemporary bridal bouquet displayed in a vase
Heart-shaped contemporary bridal bouquet displayed in a vase | Source

Call the Florist After the Flowers Have Been Delivered

If the recipient is unhappy with the flowers (they arrived wilted, broken, or frozen) call right away. Most shop owners are more than happy to work things out with you. Just be polite and patient and your problem should be swiftly resolved.

If the recipient loved the flowers call or email your florist the next day and let them know. This will absolutely make someone's day (maybe even more than the flowers made your loved one's day!) and it will make your local florist see you not just as a customer but as a great customer. I can almost guarantee any future service from your florist will be excellent.

Do You Order Flowers Early?

When do you usually place your order when you give flowers as a holiday gift?

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How Do You Feel About Flowers as Holiday Gifts?

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    • profile image

      FlowerGuy 

      5 years ago

      This is a great list of excellent ideas. I've been a pretty big proponent of the "write your card in advance " idea too having been caught flat footed a few times, stammering, trying to come up with something good. Order early too. That's a good one too. How many times have I been caught switching to plan b b/c there weren't any of my flowers left?

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Great "insider's" advice...a lot of it is common sense but always good reminders not familiar with the business. And the flower arrangements in your photos are absolutely stunning! Really unique and original.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these tips and advice. As someone who rarely orders flowers, when I have to I always feel overwhelmed. Next time, I'll know what to do thanks to your lens!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 

      8 years ago

      This looks like good advice. A lot of the tips are things people wouldn't necessarily think of -- a substitute flower, a personalized paragraph

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 

      8 years ago

      I love both receiving and sending flowers as holiday gifts. You offered valuable tips here. I also liked your article on how to care for fresh flowers.

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